2018 Nissan Navara 4.4 VL AT

Pickups have always been a kind of a hit or miss thing for me. Personally, the idea of a huge truck with versatility is something I could find interest in, but the usual lack of car-like comfort and stability are points against it. That’s not saying I wouldn’t drive a pickup, I just wouldn’t have a need for one, especially during daily drives. That was my initial train of thought before grabbing the keys to the 2018 Nissan Navara. But after having clocked in close to 1,000 kilometers in only two to three days on various road surfaces and driving conditions, I can safely say that I was impressed with the Navarra as a whole. 

4.1 / 5
2018 Nissan Navara 4x4 VL AT Review
Engine Output (HP), Acceleration, Transmission, Handling
Exterior & Interior Design, Quality, Fit and Finish, Ergonomics
Ride Comfort
Cabin Comfort, Suspension, NVH Insulation
Safety and Technology
Convenience Technologies, Active and Passive Safety Features
Value for Money
Amount of the vehicle you get for the price, Fuel Efficiency
What You Will Like
  • One of those pickup trucks with truly muscular exterior.
  • Bird's eye view monitor really helps you get a clean 360-degree top view.
  • Comes with Nissan Intelligent Mobility Suite.
What You Won't Like
  • Size of multi-function screen's a bit small for multiple camera projections.
  • Awkward placement of rear cupholders on the floor.
  • Does nose dives under hard braking.
How We Do Our Reviews

In the looks department, the V-motion grille and running lights already exude a masculine appeal. The trim we had was the top-spec model with all the goodies, and the additional cladding and rails helped create a solid stance. I particularly like the headlights and taillights, they worked well at lighting up the road at highway speeds and pitch black country roads, and helped me stay visible at all times.

The only afterthought is its reverse camera – surely hiding it somewhere else or integrating it as part of the rear Nissan badging would’ve helped. Also interesting to note is that the cameras for the around-view monitor system are hidden in plain sight, so it doesn’t detract from the look. The nicely designed wheels with the Brown Pearl Metallic paint job are lovely, and the slight touches of chrome are just right. Overall, it’s a pleasant looking pickup with a lot of road presence.

Step into the Navara and you’re greeted with a predominantly leather interior in the 4x4 VL trim. It feels premium, and the silver accents are nice. The driver’s seat is electronically adjustable and has lumbar support so you can find that perfect driving position in no time. The zero gravity seats offer fantastic support and feel great, making traffic and six hour drives more comfortable. In terms of toys, the top variant gets a 5-inch multifunction touchscreen infotainment system which doubles as the monitor for the around view mode. While pairing and multimedia functions were quick and painless, I found the screen too small for viewing the multiple cameras around the pickup. While the picture quality is decent, a bigger screen would’ve been a blessing as it takes some time to make out certain objects.

The rest of the switches and buttons are well-placed, and the audio, cruise, and telephone buttons are nicely done on the steering wheel. There’s also keyless entry and push to start functions in this trim, and it certainly added points to convenience. It certainly feels nice in the cabin of the Navara, not something I would have expected from a pickup. I also found a large amount of cupholders inside, enough for to think that I wouldn’t run out of places to put other stuff aside from my drink. The only thing I noticed was the awkward placement of the rear cupholders, which are located on the floor.

All variants of the Navara get the 2.5-liter turbocharged diesel mill, with differences in the top two VL trims (one is AT and one is MT) having more horsepower and torque, 187 hp and 450 Nm respectively. There’s some slight jerkiness but throttle input can cure that as it does take some getting used to. The surge of power once above 2,000 RPM is great, and it keeps pulling through the gears. Speaking of gears, our tester came with a seven-speed automatic that shifted nicely.

You may choose to switch to manual mode at anytime, but the transmission worked pretty well, especially on longer drives where that seventh gear helps in keeping the noise and vibrations down coming from the engine. It is unfortunate that steering is heavy – those used to electric power steering will definitely see the difference. Low speed and city maneuvers can prove to be a chore when full rotation of the wheel is required. On the positive note, feel is good, especially on highway stretches, as the weight keeps the truck planted in its lane. 

Handling was adequate for a pickup. Yes, there is body roll, and it also dives under hard braking, but these are all characteristics of the chassis and are expected. What I did like is that the ride was not as floaty as I expected it to be. I like a firmer suspension most of the time, and the Navara communicated bumps and road surfaces through the wheel and suspension effectively. Some will find it a bit harsh, but the ride was good in my experience. It’s a composed-feeling pickup truck, and it never felt like it was about to let go of traction or feel detached in any way. We weren’t able to test the off-road capabilities of the Navara, but the inclusion of hill descent control is appreciated, complimenting the different shift on the fly 4WD modes. I’m certain that the Navara can be potent off-road, and will satisfy those who venture into the wilderness or have an active lifestyle.

With concern as to how efficient the Nissan Navara drives, a series of different driving disciplines were done. Driving it between 20 km/h to 40 km/h on EDSA isn’t what you’ll always look forward to, as it registered 8.9km/L on the meter. Driving on provincial roads, on the other hand, the vehicle showed a 12.4 km/L reading, while driving along the expressway gave out 15.2 km/L. These figures, I must say, are one of the bests in the segment as far as efficiency is concerned. Do note however, that these tests were done without payload so expect that these numbers could change at times of hauling or errand drives.

In closing, while it may not be the most powerful pickup out there or has the most complete set of toys, the package that the Navara offers is great. The addition of Nissan Intelligent Mobility systems is always a winner in our books, and we hope the more advanced features trickle down into the pickups very soon.

The Navara is a handsome pickup truck that plays to its versatility as a daily hauler or holiday getaway vehicle. It rides very well for a pickup and has more than enough power to get you around or over any obstacle. If I were in the market for a pickup, then the Navara would definitely be on my list. Let me just get a tow hitch and trailer for my motorcycles first.

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